New Delhi: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) on Saturday (December 14) extended the window period for another 30 days from December 15 to enforce the new rule mandatory FASTags due to a shortage of tags availability in the market.

Despite setting December 15 as the deadline, more than 50 per cent of the vehicle owners have not fitted their vehicles with FASTag, this led the extension of the window period for mandatory FASTags.

Earlier, the government had announced the rollout of mandatory FASTag under electronic toll collection from December 1, which was later extended to December 15, 2019. Now it has further extended for another month owing to a shortage of radio frequency identification (RFID) based FASTag and deficit of supply of the tag.

The chairman of NHAI Sukbir Singh Sandhu has asked the regional officers of the NHAI to take call in converting the FASTag lane into hybrid lane as temporary measures. He, however, instructed the ROs not to convert more than 25% of FASTag lanes of fee plaza to hybrid lanes during the period.

To avert inconvenience to citizens, NHAI will convert up to 25 per cent of FASTag lanes at national highway toll plazas to hybrid lanes for a month. The hybrid lane will accept FASTag and other modes of payment.

The National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) programme, the flagship initiative of the ministry, has been implemented on a pan-India basis in order to remove bottlenecks and ensure seamless movement of traffic and collection of user fee as per the notified rates, using passive radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.

In the original rollout plan, only one lane on each direction will be a hybrid lane whereas all other lanes are to accept toll through FASTags only. If cars without FASTags enter a FASTag-lane, it will be charged double the toll amount. The NHAI has been issuing FASTags for free, and even giving Rs 150 cashback while bearing the security deposit on each tag. The average issuance of the tag has reached around 1.96 lakhs per day.